Slow cooking, Zimbabwe-style
Last week's slow cooker article garnered a lot of reader response, and my e-mail in-box was flooded with a ton of letters (still wading through all of them, sorry if I haven't responded yet!).
One of the letters was from Mike White in Zimbabwe. He writes about using what he calls a slow cooking "hot box," pictured above. He uses a cardboard box (or the large enameled bowl pictured) in which he places a large pillow. In a separate lidded cooking pot, food is brought to a boil for maybe 10 minutes, depending on what is being prepared. It is then placed on a mat over the pillow (the place mat keeps the pillow from scorching, he says.) A tea towel goes over the lidded pot, which is then topped off by another pillow to retain heat while the contents slowly cook. Mike says the pot will still steam after three or four hours, cooking everything from beans to tough meat stews beautifully.
And he notes the practicality of using the hot box:
"We live in Zimbabwe where the power often goes out and even if we have power I save power by using it partly because it works so well.
"We have lived for many years with austerity and it has become part of our culture I suppose. The food we eat and how we eat it has become more special. Each meal has become a celebration. Many people who visit say that everything tastes so much better in Zimbabwe. Nothing is wasted.
"I notice you are in the midst of a terrible drought and of course in the recession we are all in, I suppose we need to keep positive and flexible in these times."
Thanks so much for your e-mail, Mike!
— Noelle Carter
Photos courtesy of Mike White